Attracts: Birds, Butterflies, Bees, Wildlife, Tree Frogs
Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil, Deer, Black Walnut
Native to: Jefferson County
The Black Locust is like your big brother in that there will be times where you are extremely close and appreciative and there are other times it inflicts pain and you want to knock it down.
A native to Jefferson County, the Black Locust has many amazing qualities that one should consider, yet it does have some drawbacks.
In late spring the tree produces large showy white flowers that are quite fragrant. The flowers are amazing sources of the nectar for native and honeybees. If bees would use the tree exclusively for the honey, the honey when harvested would be practically clear as the nectar is a watery white color. The nectar is also high in fructose, so when honey with Black Locust nectar is produced it can be stored for long periods without crystalizing. The tree serves as a host plant to 61 species of butterflies and moths.
The tree is perhaps the best ecosystem tree that can be added to the landscape. Birds and squirrels feast on the seeds of the tree throughout the fall and winter. Grouse, turkey, rabbits, and deer feed on the leaves. The tree’s rapid growth cause the inner part of the trunk to often hollow out making this a great cavity tree for pileated woodpeckers, owls, bats, tee frogs, squirrels, and a plethora of cavity dwelling song birds. The trunk of the tree often remains erect for years after the tree dies making it great habitat.
The wood from this extremely low maintenance tree burns extremely hot. A cord of seasoned Black Locust will create the same amount of BTUs as a ton of anthracite coal. The wood is extremely rot resistant.
Black Locust is a critical species for ecosystem health as it can remove large quantities of pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air, and fixes obscene amounts of nitrogen in the soil.
The drawbacks of the locust is that the tree is a fast growing tree that can colonize if left unchecked and the branches have stout thorns affixed.
The wood of Black Locust was used to erect the first buildings and palisade walls of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. George Washington used the tree as a living fence at Mount Vernon. ■